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Mammalian Transcriptome Mapped

The FANTOM Consortium for Genome Exploration Research Group, a large international collection of scientists that includes researchers at The Scripps Research Institute's Florida campus, is reporting the results of a massive multi-year project to map the mammalian "transcriptome" in this week's issue of the journal Science.

The transcriptome, or transcriptional landscape as it is sometimes called, is the totality of RNA transcripts produced from DNA, by the cell in any tissue at any given time. It is a measure of how human genes are expressed in living cells, and its complete mapping gives scientists major insights into how our genome works.

"This is arguably the next major step after the human genome project," says Professor Claes Wahlestedt, M.D., Ph.D., who is the director of Pharmacogenomics at Scripps Florida. Wahlestedt is also a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and is adjunct chief scientist at RIKEN Institutes, Japan. "Our Japanese collaborators, headed by Professor Yoshihide Hayashizaki, should be credited for their long-standing focus on generating novel data on the transcriptome," Wahlestedt continues.

The mammalian transcriptome has already revealed a number of new and startling things about the nature of mammalian biology. One of the most significant of these findings, about "antisense transcription," appears in a separate article by Wahlestedt and his colleagues in the same issue of Science.

Antisense transcription (see section below) was once thought to be rare, but the transcriptome reveals that it takes place to an extent that few could have imagined. "Instead of it being a rare phenomenon, we are showing that it is a massively abundant phenomenon," says Wahlestedt. "It is the rule rather than the exception."

This discovery has significant implications for the future of biological research, medicine, and biotechnology because antisense genes are likely to participate in the control of many, perha
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Source:Scripps Research Institute


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